NEW ZEALAND – South Island Dairy Event – Challenging The Future – June 24, 2011

NEW ZEALAND – There’s no doubt this year’s been a positive one for most in the dairy industry, but there is a lot on the horizon for farmers to keep their eye on. Helping them to see the bigger picture will be presentations and discussion at this year’s South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) conference on June 27 to 29 at Lincoln University near Christchurch.

The “Challenge your future” theme of SIDE will cover many of the concerns facing the industry now and into the future. Organising committee chair Simon Mackle said it will be the ideal place to bring some of those issues forward for discussion, and he’s hoping for a big farmer turnout this year.

Some of those challenges farmers need to be aware of are external political and economic influences, and sustainability in resources like people, as well as environmental sustainability including climate change.

“As an industry, and as individual farmers, we have to be increasingly aware of the environmental impact of farming, and what we have to do to still have our families farming in 50 year’s time. At the same we have be conscious of meeting the consumers needs and public expectations. What we do to attract and retain new generations into the industry also needs to be aired.

“Many of the global economic fluctuations are things we can’t change, but being aware of the climate we operate in and what’s going on beyond the farm gate helps each of us with long-term decision making.”

Having speakers and discussion forums to address just some of those concerns assists to understand the issue better, hear new ideas, focus the thinking, and make better-informed choices. “If we don’t talk about these things and plan our own future we lose control of our own direction.”

But as well as looking at what is facing the industry, challenging your future is also looking at what individual farmers can do to challenge themselves.

“So it’s the perfect opportunity for all farmers to take some time out, assess what we’re doing well, where there’s room for improvement and what we need to do next. And as well as stimulating the brain, farmers tell us it’s a great chance to chat with people and have a good time.”

“We’re also looking forward to having the event at Lincoln, something that will help the Christchurch area economically,” Mr Mackle added.

As always, SIDE has secured top speakers, this year including All Blacks coach Graham Henry talking about high performance leadership and Finance Minister Bill English on the importance of dairying to the New Zealand economy. Other keynote speakers address sustainability, climate change, and world macroeconomic conditions and trends, while a panel discussion looks at how South Island dairy growth can be sustainably managed.

SIDE Workshops have traditionally been popular, but new this year are some with a longer format and extended presentations prior to open discussion. Thirty-one topics across five workshop sessions over three days range from career progression to employment law and understanding financial statements, to wet weather management and OAD milking and low cost grazing systems.

Information presented at Business SIDE 2011 is pitched at owners, sharemilkers and equity partners looking to improve the governance, strategy and risk management of their businesses.

More than 400 registrations have already been received for this year’s event, and organisers are encouraging farmers to register promptly and avoid disappointment, as venue capacity will limit numbers.

SIDE 2011 is on 27-29 June 2011 at Lincoln University, Christchurch.

Full registration is $290 (including GST) with a discounted rate of $265 if more than one registration is received at the same time from the same farm. Business SIDE is an additional $100 with a full registration.

A copy of the programme and registration form can be downloaded from http://www.side.org.nz

Information TheDairySite

NEW ZEALAND – NZ Farmers Defend Responsible Use Of Antibiotics – June 23, 2011

NEW ZEALAND – Federated Farmers is asking Sue Kedgley, Green Party MP to apologise for comments in April, relating to the use of antibiotics in agriculture. This comes after a Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) survey showed no human health implications from antibiotic resistance in New Zealand food-producing animals or fresh produce.

“Sue Kedgley made some serious claims in April relating to the use of antibiotics in agriculture,” says Don Nicolson, Federated Farmers President speaking on behalf of John Hartnell, the Federation’s food safety spokesperson.

“As a Member of Parliament, she has a responsibility to make certain any comments she makes are accurate. Food safety is simply no place for politicking or scaremongering.

“Her comments in April had potential to impact New Zealand’s reputation as a quality food exporter. It also directly affects people’s livelihood and indirectly affects the livelihoods of thousands of New Zealanders. This is serious, serious stuff she needs to be aware of.

“MAF’s public health principal adviser, Dr Donald Campbell, has confirmed that farmers are responsibly using antibiotics under veterinarian guidance.

“MAF has just released a year-long survey covering 2009-2010 that I quote, “focused on antimicrobial resistance to important and commonly used antibiotics among E. Coli, Enterococcus, Campylobacter and Salmonella bacteria found in freshly dressed carcasses of calves, pigs and broiler poultry from New Zealand abattoirs and processing plants.”

“Although the survey detected some bacterial resistance to some antibiotics, this resistance has no direct human health implication.

“Ms Kedgley gave the false impression that farmers were using antibiotics with abandon and that’s also wrong. The latest statistics show that 11.25 per cent fewer antibiotics were used on-farm in the 2008/9 season than in 2005/6.

“Dr Campbell has also concluded that there’s been no increase in resistance found in food-producing animals in New Zealand.

“I personally think Ms Kedgley owes agriculture an apology,” Mr Nicolson concluded.

To see what Ms Kedgley said see here.

Information TheCattleSite News Desk

NEW ZEALAND – First Year of Effluent Risk Assessment Completed – June 22, 2011

NEW ZEALAND – Fonterra has completed its first Every Farm Every Year check of on-farm effluent with independent assessors completing the first ever risk assessment on every supplying farm.

“We now have a clear picture of where our farms are at, who is doing well and who needs help. The majority are doing well and we can give credit where it’s due. Now we’re concentrating on those who need help and that support is being welcomed,” said Fonterra’s Director of Supplier and External Relations, Kelvin Wickham.

Every Farm Every Year is Fonterra’s programme to help farmer shareholders improve compliance with council effluent rules. Since its launch in August 2010, independent assessors from AsureQuality or QCONZ have visited all 10,500 supplying farms, checking if effluent infrastructure is compliant, non-compliant or even at risk of non-compliance.

Fonterra received 2,800 referrals to its Sustainable Dairying Advisors team. These involve farms assessors have identified with compliance issues or the risk of them and farms where shareholders have proactively self-referred to get advice. The advisor team has completed 1940 one-one-one visits with referred farmers.

“To date we have 1200 farms with effluent improvement plans in place and of those, 600 plans have already been completed.”

Mr Wickham said the Every Farm Every Year check on every single farm had sorted out where Fonterra needed to focus its efforts first.

He said that while the number of referrals was higher than initially forecast, that was the result of Fonterra broadening the scope to include farms that might be at risk of non-compliance in the future.

“Because we have widened the scope, we have advised farmers it might take us a bit longer to get to them to help them develop their effluent improvement plans.

“We know that not all councils have the resources to get out to every single farm in their area. We also know farms can and do pass compliance spot checks, but may then run into problems if there is an extended wet period, they have to defer irrigation and their effluent storage proves temporarily inadequate.

“Council expectations can also change from one year to another. For example, feed pads and entry and exit races have been recently included in monitoring. This is positive, but it does mean farmers can have risks they weren’t aware of under their existing consents. That’s why we are identifying farms at risk of non-compliance. That has meant a heavier workload, but it’s also meant we have a clear picture on a farm-by-farm basis for the first time.

Mr Wickham said Fonterra had hired more people to implement the programme and this investment was being matched by farmers who were putting place remedial plans. Plans could cost up to $100,000 to implement, depending on whether major infrastructure, such as additional effluent storage ponds, was required.

“Plans do cost money, but our experience is that farmers are welcoming the support and advice and responding well. In March, 252 plans had already been actioned and today that’s up to 600.”

Mr Wickham said Every Farm Every Year would turn the compliance tide over time.

“We will not achieve 100% compliance overnight. Even farms doing well now are always at risk of gear failure, or storage problems caused by long periods of heavy rain. That is the nature of farming and we will just have to maintain the effort.

“Positively though, farmers recognise the need for year-round compliance and are getting a better understanding of the risks in areas such as effluent storage capacity, irrigation systems and feed pads or standoffs.”

Information TheCattleSite News Desk

GLOBAL – G20: Ministers Agree To Fight Volatility Of Ag Prices – June 24, 2011

GENERAL – At the G20 Farm Ministers meeting, 20 of the most powerful economies in the world have agreed an action plan to fight against the volatility of agricultural prices.

Together, the G20 nations committed to increasing agricultural production through use of improved practices and technologies and a commitment to new and expanded research and development.

“The need for market transparency and consistency with science-based rule-making systems among our nations and the international community is stronger than ever,” said US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack.

“Purposefully then, we support establishing the groundwork for an international agricultural market information system, or AMIS, that if fully supported and utilised, will mitigate volatility and reduce market distorting signals by promoting greater shared understanding of food production and price information.”

“This is a tour de force for the international community,” French Minister of Agriculture, Bruno Le Maire added.

“The consensus reached this week by the Ministers of Agriculture is a historical unity to solve the pressing challenges of hunger and the volatility of food prices,” Secretary Vilsack concluded.

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GLOBAL – G20: Farm Groups Appeal To Ministers – June 22, 2011

GLOBAL – On the eve of the G-20 Farm Minister’s meeting, farm groups from around the world are calling for coherence saying trade policy must not dictate agricultural policy.

Farm groups from 66 countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe adopted a joint declaration, stressing that trade policy must not be allowed to dictate domestic agricultural policies or ignore non-trade concerns – contrary to the commitments undertaken in the Uruguay Round.

In the wake of growing world food demand, they say food security is crucial, and better coherence between World Trade Organisation (WTO) and other global concerns is required.

With less than 10 per cent of the world’s agricultural production traded on global markets, agriculture plays an important role in providing food security to local populations, maintaining viable rural communities and looking after precious land resources.

Farm groups, therefore, are insisting on the recognition of the special and strategic role of agriculture in light of the huge challenges it faces: increasing price volatility exacerbated by excessive speculation on the markets, finite land and water resources and threats posed by climate change.

Meanwhile, the high number of hungry in the world persists and world food demand is rising.

During a media conference in Brussels, Djibo Bagna, President of Roppa, representing farm organisations from West Africa said: “We are questioning if the approach of simply opening markets, without regard to these issues and how they impact farmers who produce food, is really the best way forward.”

“Better coherence is required between any agreement on agriculture at the WTO and the commitments undertaken through other major international treaties on issues such as poverty, hunger, climate change and biodiversity.”

Paolo Bruni, Cogeca President, representing farm organisations across the EU commented: “We firmly support the objective that countries respect the same clear, transparent and predictable rules for world trade.”

“But trade is a means of enabling human development, not an end in itself. Food is vital for human life and cannot be treated like other commodities.”

“The WTO Agreement on Agriculture, Article 20 c. extent of liberalisation must, therefore, be tempered by the need to provide the means and economic incentives to farmers in all parts of the world, so that they can fulfil their production potential in a sustainable way.”

The groups say that governments need to take coordinated action to ensure more stability on agricultural markets and to strengthen farmers’ position vis-à-vis highly concentrated agri-food businesses.

Ther are also calling for a more harmonised approach to protect the environment and biodiversity as well as addressing climate change.

Farm groups are pressing their political leaders to take into account the following basic principles when pursuing trade agreements:

  • all countries must have the right to produce for domestic consumption in order to improve self-sufficiency and ensure their food security, including the use of tariff measures;
  • trade rules must allow for policy measures, including supply management, which promote stability of food supplies and prices;
  • special and differential treatment and capacity-building for developing countries must enable them to address the real concerns of resource-poor, vulnerable and small-scale farmers, and;
  • all countries should have the right to meet the non-trade concerns of their citizens including food safety, the environment, animal welfare and needs of rural areas so as to promote sustainable agriculture and, help combat climate change and, protect biodiversity.

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GLOBAL – G20: FEFAC Focuses On Increasing Production – June 22, 2011

GLOBAL – The European Compound Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC) President, Patrick Vanden Avenne, has called on the European Commission to focus on measures allowing the increase of production and productivity for world agricultural production at the upcoming G-20 Farm Ministers meeting on 22-23 June 2011 in Paris.

In an open letter sent to EU Farm Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, Mr Vanden Avenne pointed to the need for Farm Ministers to emphasise the importance of developing efficient and sustainable feed and livestock production, representing the major outlet for vegetable crops and co-products from the food and biofuel industry.

He said that “Food security should become a strategic policy goal both at EU and global level”.

“Modern feed and livestock production provides key solutions to effectively deal with price volatility and supply of affordable food products for a growing world population”.

He pointed to FEFAC members’ involvement in a series of public-private partnership seeking to increase sustainability and resource efficiency of livestock and feed at national, EU and international level.

The increase of feed efficiency is a key tool to improve performance of livestock production. He welcomed the EU Farm Ministers conclusion at the May Farm Council meeting that access to competitive raw materials is the key for a competitive sustainable development of EU livestock production.

He said that FEFAC fully supports any efforts of EU and global regulators to increase market transparency on financial markets as well as on physical commodity markets but strongly advises EU and national government authorities to associate the private sector both regarding exchange on market information on production and stocks as well during the management of crisis situations.

FEFAC is calling on the EU Farm Ministers to systematically tackle and review regulatory burden and remove measures which may hamper the fluidity of markets for agricultural raw materials, without compromising feed and food safety standards. These measures raise legal uncertainties leading to lower predictability of agricultural markets, which amplifies normal market price volatility (e.g. the EU GMO policy).

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CHINA – China To Import More US Soybeans – June 23, 2011

CHINA – Soybean imports are expected to rise by five per cent this year, increasing the attraction of the country to US soybean farmers.

The statement was made by Alan Kemper, president of the American Soybean Association, report official sources in China.

The increase in the soybean trade may help promote China-US relationships, indicating a way to balance bilateral trade, Chinese experts said.

Mr Kemper said: “China is the most important market for US soybeans, and the soybean trade will play a large role in improving the balance of China-US trade.”

China is the largest importer of US soybeans. It imported a quarter of the country’s domestic production last year, according to the association.

Zhang Monan, a researcher at the Economic Forecast Department of the State Information Center, said soybean trade between the two countries will help maintain a stable development in bilateral relations.

The US has heavily subsidised its agricultural sector so it is important for the country to ensure profit margins in the global food market, Mr Zhang said.

Given constraints over land and water resources, it is difficult for China to meet growing demand for agricultural products such as soybeans domestically. It can buy agricultural products with its bulky foreign reserves, she added.

If imports are to increase, it is not because of a decline in domestic production but because of growing demand, said Liu Denggao, vice-president of the China Soybean Industry Association.

Mr Liu said: “The size of the area where China’s soybeans are grown remains largely unchanged from last year.”

Even with the fresh demand in China’s market, the competition is growing fiercer in the international market, as imports from South American countries such as Brazil and Argentina have also increased in recent years.

To consolidate its position, the US soybean industry will invest more than $2 million this year in China’s market, Mr Kemper said.

The investment will finance programmes teaching Chinese farmers efficient ways of using soybeans to improve the production of swine, poultry, dairy and other agricultural sectors, according to the association.

Marc Curtis, chairman of the United Soybean Board, said: “These programmes have been carried out for the last 30 years since we arrived in China. We will continue our efforts to serve China’s market.”

China imported a historic 54.8 million tons of soybeans in 2010, compared with 15.2 million tons of domestic production, General Administration of Customs data showed. The country’s self-sufficiency rate currently stands at 22 per cent.

The imported soybeans are all genetically modified and mainly used as animal feed or for oil crushing.

Imports of soybeans to China declined by one per cent year-on-year to 4.56 million tons in May. China’s soybean imports during the first five months of this year remain largely the same compared with the same period last year.

Information TheCattleSite News Desk